GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – Bucknell came from 11 points down to take the lead down the stretch, but a flurry of free throws in the final minute lifted Siena to a 71-68 victory over the Bison on Saturday afternoon at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Zach Thomas scored 19 points, Stephen Brown had 16 points, six assists and five steals, and Nana Foulland recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Bison, who fell to 7-4 on the season.
Brett Bisping had 17 points and 13 rebounds for Siena, the No. 2 preseason pick in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Saints (4-7) had five players score in double figures and defeated Bucknell for the third straight year by a combined seven points.
Siena led 36-29 at halftime and slowly built the margin up to as many as 11 with 9:29 remaining in the second half. It was still a 10-point game at 62-52 after Marquis Wright flipped in a desperation 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock with 6:16 to go, but the Bison made a major rally.
A trey by Kimbal Mackenzie to answer the Wright shot ignited a 12-1 Bison run. Fastbreak layups by Matt O'Reilly and Zach Thomas sandwiched around a pair of Foulland free throws brought the Bison within 63-62. A Foulland jump-hook deep in the lane with 3:38 to go gave Bucknell its first lead of the second half.
Javion Ogunyemi hit one of two free throws to tie it at 64. Ogunyemi and Foulland, the two centers, took turns blocking each other’s shots, and then Brown made two at the line to give Bucknell a 66-64 lead with 2:27 to go.
Nico Clareth, who scored 16 off the bench for Siena, drove to the basket for a tying layup. After a Bison miss, the Saints were in major scramble mode late in the shot clock. Clareth was well off the mark on a deep fadeaway three from the left wing, but he was bailed out by a foul call. Clareth made all three free throws with 57 seconds left to give the Saints a 69-66 lead.
Bucknell missed a 3-pointer at the other end, then fouled Wright with 15 seconds left. Wright missed both free throws, but Bisping somehow reached over a Bison player to tip the ball into the corner and then drew a foul as he was falling out of bounds. Bisping then hit 1 of 2 at the line to make it a two-possession game.
The Bison still had life after Thomas hit an apparent 3-pointer with five seconds left, but the call was changed to a two after a replay review, leaving it a 70-68 game. Ogunyemi went to the line with 2.1 ticks left and made the first before missing the second. Thomas’ heave from three-quarters court fell short.
Ogunyemi’s late free throw gave him an even 1,000 career points. Four of Siena’s five starters have now reached the 1,000-point plateau.
Coming off an 11-day layoff for final exams, Bucknell shot 36.8 percent from the field for the game, including a 7-for-25 mark from 3-point distance. The Bison were 19-for-25 from the foul line. Siena shot 47.8 percent overall, 5-for-12 from the arc and 22-for-34 from the foul line.
Bucknell received 17 points from its bench, including eight from O’Reilly and four points and a career-high nine rebounds from Nate Sestina.
“I am proud of our effort in how we fought back from a double-digit deficit in the second half,” said head coach Nathan Davis. “At the same time, we had some possessions late in the game where we did not execute as well as we needed to. We will learn from it and get right back at it on Monday against Mount St. Mary’s.”
Both teams had significant runs in the final five minutes of the first half. The Bison trailed by seven points at 25-18, but a Foulland free throw kicked off a 10-2 Bison run. Brown, whose five steals were a career high, picked off a pass and went the length of the floor for a breakaway layup, and Foulland threw down a dunk after coming up with an offensive rebound.
Thomas hit two free throws after a technical foul to give the Bison the lead at 28-27, but Siena immediately shot back with a 9-0 run, punctuated by a Clareth breakaway jam.
Bucknell has two more non-conference games coming up at home before the start of Patriot League play. The Bison host Mount St. Mary’s on Monday and Princeton on Thursday before opening up PL competition at Navy on Dec. 30.